Discovery banks on circus, swamp in new TV lineup

Thu Apr 14, 2011 1:23pm EDT
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By Paul Thomasch

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Discovery Channel, home to a string of popular adventure and nature shows, will roll out a TV schedule next year featuring a circus family, woolly mammoths and reptile rescuers, among other oddities.

Discovery Channel, which struggled at times last season to retain viewers, has scheduled three new specials and four new series for the 2011-12 season, joining returning programs including "Storm Chasers" and "Deadliest Catch."

Discovery will introduce its full lineup to advertisers during a presentation later on Thursday, before it begins the process of negotiating commercial rates for the upcoming season during the so-called upfront period.

TV advertising has surged in recent months on demand from the automotive, retail and telecommunications categories, providing a boost in sales for cable network owners such as Discovery Communications and Time Warner Inc.

The result, analysts say, is that commercial rates could be up by 10 percent or more in this year's upfront market, when cable and broadcast networks sell the bulk of their time for the next TV season. Broadcast networks NBC, CBS, Fox and ABC will introduce their lineups in May.

Discovery Communications, in addition to the Discovery Channel, owns TLC, Animal Planet, Investigation Discovery, Science and Discovery Fit & Health.

It is also the owner, along with Oprah Winfrey, of the new OWN network, a largely female-oriented mixture of lifestyle, advice and uplifting shows. The network has suffered some audience ratings setbacks since its highly publicized launch in January.

OWN plans to introduce six new series in the upcoming season and will return "Our America With Lisa Ling," "Ask Oprah's All Stars," "Enough Already!" "In the Bedroom with Dr. Laura Berman" and "Oprah Presents Master Class."   Continued...